Nation & World News

Senate Blocks Bill To Overhaul Military Sex Assault Prosecutions

By Scott Neuman on March 6th, 2014

The Senate has voted to block a bill that would have removed the authority of senior military commanders to prosecute sexual assault cases within their ranks.

On Thursday’s 55-45 vote, short of the 60 necessary to move the legislation forward, the Senate set aside the Military Justice Improvement Act sponsored by New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

USA Today says the bill “would take away military commanders’ authority to decide whether to prosecute sexual assault cases — and other offenses punishable by at least one year in jail — and give it to prosecutors in the Judge Advocate General’s office.”

The Associated Press writes:

“The Pentagon’s leadership vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the men and women they lead.”

“Proponents of the bill insisted that far-reaching changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice are necessary to curb a scourge of rapes and sexual assaults.”

“Gillibrand’s effort bitterly divided the Senate in a battle that smashed conventional lines on gender and political party.”

Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky backed her effort, but as NPR’s Liz Halloran reported last month, it faced opposition from powerful fellow Democrats, including Sen. Claire McCaskill and Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, as well as the president himself.

The AP says: “Although the vote sent the bill back to the Senate calendar, it was unlikely to be the final word. Gillibrand was expected to pursue the issue this spring when the Armed Services Committee begins work on a sweeping defense policy bill for the 2015 fiscal year.”

Gillibrand’s legislation comes amid a rash of high-profile sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases in the ranks, prompting President Obama in December to order a one-year review of the military’s response to the problem. On Thursday, Army Brig.-Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery before a court-martial in North Carolina, but still faces a charge of sexually assaulting a female captain.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-Sex Marriages In Florida

The Supreme Court declined to extend a stay on a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who said in August that Florida’s 2008 ban is unconstitutional. The stay expires in January.


CEO Says Sony Pictures ‘Did Not Capitulate,’ Is Exploring Options

Melissa Block talks to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton about the cyber attack against his company and the cancellation of the Christmas Day release of The Interview.


Actor James Franco (left), seen here with The Interview co-star Seth Rogen, was called "James Flacco" by President Obama Friday. Afterward, the jokes poured in.

Obama Says ‘James Flacco.’ The Internet Says, Thank You

It was an honest mistake. But when President Obama said “James Flacco” when referring to James Franco — on a Friday before the holidays, no less — the slip was eagerly received online.


Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., in September. New EPA guidelines treat toxic coal ash from such plants much the same as common household garbage.

New EPA Standards Label Toxic Coal Ash Non-Hazardous

Environmental groups had sought to have coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, regulated as hazardous waste.


"I didn't want to fire things up," St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch says of his silence since announcing the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

St. Louis Grand Jury Heard Witnesses Who Lied, Prosecutor Says

Weeks after he announced a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in Michael Brown’s death, prosecutor Robert McCulloch explains some of his own decisions in the case.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments